Stransky expects Lions to ‘fade away a little’
Cape Town - Former Springbok flyhalf Joel Stransky feels the Lions class of 2017 will struggle to repeat the highs they achieved last year.
The men from Johannesburg were Super Rugby runners-up in 2016 and have started 2017 well, winning five of their first six games to sit atop the Africa Conference 2 standings.
However, uncertainty looms among their ranks when it was announced on Monday that coach Johan Ackermann will leave the Lions after Super Rugby to join English club Gloucester.
“I think the Lions are not quite as sharp as they were last year,” Stransky said in an interview with New Zealand's Radio Sport. “Some of those players who achieved such highs have not played as well as they did last year, and given the fact that the coach has announced that he’s going, I think the Lions might fade away a little bit.”
Asked whether he felt SA Rugby could have done more to keep Ackermann in the country, Stransky replied: “I do wish SA Rugby somehow tried to keep him here, but the other side of that coin is if you look at coaches who have become great coaches, they have also gone and learnt a different perspective in Europe.
“Johan is a young coach, he’s got years ahead of him, he’s still learning his trade... so maybe he’ll come back in three years’ time and be an even better coach and be the next national coach."
Stransky, who is renowned for kicking the winning drop goal in the 1995 World Cup final against New Zealand, also feels there aren’t many suitable candidates to succeed Ackermann at the Lions.
Stransky referred to the other South African franchises having relatively young and inexperienced head coaches.
“If we look around at our Super Rugby coaches - Robert du Preez at the Sharks is in his first year, Franco Smith (Cheetahs) is in his second year, Robbie Fleck is a young coach at the Stormers and Nollis Marais (Bulls) is a young coach...”
There have been rumours that Lions assistant coach Swys de Bruin could take over from Ackermann, but Stransky is not sure whether De Bruin would be suitable.
“I’m not sure if assistant coach Swys de Bruin, who is technically unbelievable, is the type of character to be the head coach, so it is a problem…”
In the same interview, Stransky also said that the Cheetahs and Kings should be scrapped from the Super Rugby competition. CLICK HERE to read more on the matter.